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State agency fight for child custody may be winding down

Custody disputes are not always between two parents. Sometimes state agencies take control over a child against the will of a parent or parents. In Georgia and in every other state, complaints of parental abuse are received and processed by child welfare agencies. But these can sometimes be vengeful attacks by noncustodial parents or other disgruntled interests. Child custody is thus sometimes wrongly taken from the parents by a child welfare agency.

These cases may involve false accusations against largely faultless parents, who are forced to try to fight the government to get their child back. For reasons unknown, child welfare agencies are especially prone to premature and excessive actions unsupported by substantial evidence. In some cases, parents can be castigated and their rights denied through ambiguous or mistaken accusations.

That may be what is happening in Massachusetts. The Department of Children and Families (DCF) took physical custody of a 15-year-old Connecticut teen in February of 2013, and still has not returned her to her parents. The parents had taken her to the Boston Children's' Hospital to see a doctor who transferred there from her treating facility, Tufts University Hospital. Unbelievably, the authorities at the Boston hospital did not accept the diagnosis of mitochondrial disease provided by Tufts and decided instead that she had somatoform disorder, a mental disease allegedly triggered by her parents' committing a shadowy offense called "medical child abuse."

The hospital took the child and escorted the parents out of the hospital by armed guards. The state DCF has retained custody ever since. Child custody proceedings are pending in Massachusetts. A few months ago, the DCF finally agreed to transfer the girl's care back to Tufts. However, that has not been done.

Recently, legislators in both Connecticut and Massachusetts have signed resolutions demanding that the child be released immediately. Fortunately, the degree of controversy associated with this child custody debacle has not occurred in any Georgia cases. However, every state has its own horror stories of bizarre decisions by DCF-type agencies. They are needed to act on real cases of abuse but their intercessions into innocent familial activities should be stopped.

Source:, Sister Says Justina Pelletier's Health 'Worst Ever', Beau Berman, March 22, 2014

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